Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Constructive vs. Nonconstructive Reviews

There has always been the debate whether to look at reviews or not to. I’ve had my share of depression over book reviews, and have been delighted as well. It’s very much a rollercoaster of emotions. Unfortunately, most of the reviews on my books are on Goodreads, not the best place to have them.

However, I found a perfect example of a constructive negative review versus a just plain mean review. It makes me question if the latter was even based on actually reading the manuscript.

Here is what I consider a constructive review and am indebted to the person who wrote this because it gave me some very informative insights to my writing, and even though snarky, it had humor.

“God, if I never hear of another character "let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding" it will be too soon.

It appears in almost every book that I read these days, twice in this one, and it NEVER fails to make me roll my eyes so hard it borders on ridiculous. It's like reading an Anne Rice book and having a mental count going on the word "preternatural". Enough, give it a rest already.

It. Has. Been. Done. (to freaking death, so find another trendy phrase to 'dead horse' already)

Sorry, consider my 'pet peeve' nerve officially struck.

Anyway, this book really left me with a lot of questions:

Who? -- Who in their right mind would date, much less agree to a full-on commitment ceremony with someone who told them right up front that "if the love of my life ever shows back up again, you're out on your ass, sorry." ??? Jonathan blew me away with that one.

What? -- What was up with the whole hip injury / intense pain deal with Thad. "We need more character detail, let's add that." Didn't add anything to the book and they never explained exactly how getting stabbed 14 times would mess up your hip of all things that badly. It was weird.

When? -- When were either Shea and Clarissa going to bitch slap their dumbass brothers? I kept waiting (hoping, actually) for it, but it never came. *Sigh*.

Where? -- Where is at least ONE story about one thing, no matter how small that made Thad fall in love with Haydin? It's more like "you're hot, I'm hot, let's be hot together." Reasons, people. Reasons. It makes a story line so much more complete. We got none of that here.

Why? -- If Haydin was so in love with Thad, even 13 years after Thad's departure, could the CEO of a company not be smart or curioius enough to at least GOOGLE "Thad Carmichael"? Zero sense on that one.

I really wanted to like Thad and Haydin more than I ended up actually doing, but with just a bit of tweaking it could have definitely rated higher.

I really loved the Shea and Clarissa characters and would almost have rather been reading their story instead.”

Nothing this reviewer said made me feel as if I needed to defend myself, or made me feel degraded or worthless as a writer. It was precise and to the point and made me “think”, which I feel is what constructive criticism and negative reviews are all about. Much better than the following.

“This story was is singular in it's ridiculousness.
There are sooo many things that are just silly. Silly, the word doesn't even encompass the sheer WTF this story is...
I kept reading and I don't know why! I think I wanted to see if the WTFness would just 'keep on, keeping on.'
And it did!!!
Beyond the silliness/ridiculous was the 'telling' of what had been said or what was done or what happened. Paragraphs of telling and telling and full conversations back and force sentences of telling. No actual dialogue, just paragraphs of 'here's what happened'.
Consider the 'telling' a new pet peeve.”

The differences are so blatantly obvious! There are no examples, just a bunch of words strung together that mean nothing. The intent, in my opinion, is to degrade the story, and therefore the author. There is nothing constructive about this review. The only part I understand (and I’m not sure it actually relates to my story) is the pet peeve at the end. Even I will agree that if a story is full of nothing by “telling” versus “showing”, it can be annoying. But that was all I got out of it.

Most authors would be ecstatic to receive nothing but great reviews, but honestly, how can you grow as a writer with only kudos under your belt? No one author is perfect (even large mainstream authors make mistakes), so I will keep the first reviewers “questions” in mind as I write and hope that his comments help make me a better author.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do we talk? Or do we paint a picture?

So—this week's assignment: Do you prefer writing description or dialogue? What do you have the most difficulty with? Why do you suppose that is? What do you do to strengthen it or do you avoid it at all costs? Well, for me, that is an easy first question to answer—description. The rest are not so plain…
Let me explain, I am the quintessential shy, introverted writer. *whispers* My sister says so. Ahem…anyway, barring being an author, I’m a quiet person in my real life and never have much to say. The husband always complained. “What’s wrong?” Nothing. “How come you’re so quiet?” No reason. “Are you mad?” NO! Just because I wasn’t being the chatterbox that he was and filling in all the quiet space, didn’t mean I wasn’t happy just sitting there watching life. (Possibly my shy exterior and quiet demeanor came from a grandmother that always demanded that children be seen and not heard) 

So, when I work on manuscripts, I tend to put a lot of description in them. What my characters are feeling, saying, doing—how they are reacting and the consequences of those reactions. I add the environment around them, the emotions of those with whom they are interacting with. I do have dialogue, after all, a book would be pretty boring if it were nothing BUT descriptions. However, my dialogue is straight and to the point, and I only have it rambling if it, in fact, fits the character. “Chatty Kathy…er Chatty Chad?” or, you get the picture. 

Of course, without dialogue, you can’t get as big a picture of what the character is all about, their quirks, personality, insecurities, etc. So, though I will admit that dialogue is extremely important in any story, I do struggle with it. I am not a witty person, have never been able to keep up with the witticism of others. Can’t participate in fast banter. I was never good at that. Again, I’m a quiet person, and possibly, my characters reflect that. Does that hurt my manuscripts? Possibly. However, I do work at keeping a natural and complimentary balance between dialogue and description, and hope that it shows in my stories and that people enjoy the telling of them. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fairly new release!!

Kanson Durby thought Ty Hoffman was perfect…in every way except one. In the beginning, he thought Ty was straight, but finds out later that he is not. But Ty is not comfortable or willing to come out of the closet.
They go from friends to lovers, but things are strained as they work their way through the hardships and grief that come and go. But, finally, Kanson can no longer live in the closet with Ty, unwilling to hide anymore.
Kanson is devastated, but he tries to move on. But can he, knowing that Ty loves him so much…just not enough.

Monday, June 17, 2013


My very first interview as an author! Marketing for Romance Writers was kind enough to invite me on their BlogTalk Radio spot and I enjoyed chatting with Wt Prater and Amanda Stone. Among the topics were where I get my inspirations, what I think of female M/M writers, if I think a formal education is needed to be a successful author and much more....